Turkey’s Erdoğan praises Gabon abductions, vows new operations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday praised the abduction of three Gülen movement-linked people by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) from Gabon, saying similar operations are imminent, the pro-government Güneş daily reported.

Osman Özpınar, İbrahim Akbaş and Adnan Demirönal was caught in Gabon in a MİT operation and taken to Turkey by private jet, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported early Tuesday.

On March 29, MİT abducted six Turkish nationals linked to the Gülen movement from Kosovo.

“Gabon has recently handed over three important FETÖ [a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement] members, thank God. We will go wherever they may flee. They will flee, we will follow. We got six of them from Kosovo, we have gotten three from Gabon. Our national intelligence organization is following them. We’ll see where a new one [operation] takes place,” Erdoğan said during a parliamentary group meeting of his AKP.

The incident sent shockwaves around the world and in Kosovo, where the prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, who said he was unaware of the removal of the Turkish nationals to Turkey, fired the country’s interior minister and head of the intelligence service for failing to inform him about the arrest of the Turkish nationals.

Maja Kocijancic, an EU spokesperson, has slammed the arrest and deportation of six Turkish nationals from Kosovo due to their links to the Gülen movement, saying the incident raises questions about respect for the due process of law.

Erdoğan said on Saturday that the Turkish government would continue chasing the alleged followers of the Gülen movement abroad and bring them back Turkey. Speaking at a ruling AKP congress in the southwestern province of Denizli, Erdoğan said: “Some 80 FETÖ terrorists have been brought to Turkey. We will chase them no matter where they escape to,” adding: “As you know we nabbed six senior members of FETÖ. We caught them in Kosovo and brought them here.”

Erdoğan also said on Monday that Turkey would “help Kyrgyzstan in the fight against FETÖ.” “Turkey will continue its fight against FETÖ at home and abroad until the last FETÖ traitor is held to account before the law,” Erdoğan said at a joint press conference at the presidential complex in Ankara with his visiting Kyrgyz counterpart, Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

“We will be with him [Jeenbekov] in the fight against FETÖ with our respective departments,” he said, adding that FETÖ also posed “a great threat to Kyrgyzstan” and had “tried to derail Turkis-Kyrgyz relations.” “I believe that President Jeenbekov will be much more vigorous against FETÖ and take the necessary measures promptly,” he said.

Meanwhile, a director of pro-government think tank the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) has said that the abduction of six members of the Gülen movement from Kosovo showed no movement member could be at ease anywhere in the world. Enis Bayraklı, who is also a professor at the Turkish-German University, said Western countries were refusing to send Gülen movement members back to Turkey for purely political reasons. “As I have said, the attitude of the West on the FETÖ issue is completely political,” he said.

“If there is a dramatic change tomorrow in the international balance or if relations with Turkey are re-evaluated, they will begin returning FETÖ members from the US and Europe. I can say that wherever they are in the world, no FETÖ member is now at ease.”

“However, the political pressure is now such that Turkish Gülenists in Germany cannot walk the streets without fear,” Bayraklı said and added: “In Germany, FETÖ members can no longer comfortably walk the streets because they fear reactions from Turks in Germany. Every one of them has become paranoid, thinking that Turkish intelligence is after them. They are not psychologically at ease. They all voice their fears in statements in the German press.”

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in late March 2018 exposed the details of torture cases in Turkey last year and called on the Turkish government to enforce its proclaimed policy of zero tolerance for torture.

So far, a number of countries have handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request despite the fact that some of those victims already had refugee status with the United Nations. Among them are Saudi Arabia (16 people), Malaysia (7 people), Pakistan (4 people), Sudan (1 person), Qatar (45 people), Kosovo (6 people), Kazakhstan (1 person) and Myanmar (1 person).

US media last year reported that Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, was part of a potential bargain between former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and top Turkish officials. An alleged plan that involved Flynn forcibly and illegally removing Gülen in return for millions of dollars is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 10, 2017.

Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million to hand Gülen over to the Turkish government under the alleged proposal, according to people with knowledge of discussions Flynn had with Turkish representatives during a reported meeting in December at the 21 Club in New York City. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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